SIGMUND FROJD PDF

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This article explores attempts by Sigmund Freud to provide a naturalistic account of religion enhanced by insights and theoretical constructs derived from the discipline of psychoanalysis which he had pioneered. Freud was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist who is widely regarded as the father of psychoanalysis, which is both a psychological theory and therapeutic system.

As a theory, psychoanalysis conceptualizes the mind as a system composed of three constituent elements: id, ego, and superego. It focuses on the interaction between those elements, and includes such key concepts as infantile sexuality, repression, latency and transference.

This article charts the evolution of his views on religion from Totem and Taboo , through The Future of an Illusion and Civilization and its Discontents to Moses and Monotheism , focusing in particular on the parallels drawn by him between religious belief and neurosis, and on his account of the role which the father complex plays in the genesis of religious belief. The article concludes with a review of some of the main critical responses which the Freudian account has elicited.

He thus saw the psychosexual development of every individual as consisting essentially of a movement through a series of conflicts which are resolved by the internalization, through the operation of the superego, of control mechanisms derived originally from an authoritative, usually parental, source.

In infancy, such a progression entails a process whereby parental control involves the introduction to the child of behavioral prohibitions and limitations and necessitates the repression, displacement or sublimation of the libidinal drives.

Central to this account is the idea that neuroses, which may include the formation of psychosomatic symptoms in the individual, arise essentially either out of external trauma or through a failure to effect a resolution of the internal conflict between libidinal urges and the key psychological control mechanisms.

Symptomatically, these often present as compulsive and debilitating patterns of behavior—as in hysteria, repetitive ceremonial movements or an obsession with personal hygiene—which make a normal healthy life impossible, requiring psychotherapeutic intervention in the form of such techniques as dream analysis and free association. Of particular importance, he held, is the resolution of the Oedipus complex, which arises at the phallic stage, in which the male child forms a sexual attachment with the mother and comes to view the father as a hated and feared sexual rival.

He sought to demonstrate by this means the true origins and significance of religion in human life, in effect utilizing the techniques of psychotherapy to achieve that goal.

The following sections examine the considerations which led him to this view, to the manner in which it found articulation in his writings on religion and to the main criticisms which it has encountered. His father Jacob was a businessman descended from a long line of rabbinical scholars; a textile merchant, he went bankrupt when Sigmund was four years of age and the family were forced to move to Vienna, where they lived in genteel poverty for many years, dependent in part upon the generosity of relatives.

Experience of the latter left him with a life-long fear of poverty, his overweening ambition to establish psychoanalysis as a new science and successful treatment for hysteria was as a result partially motivated by the desire to achieve financial security for his family. He also ensured that the boy had a traditional Jewish schooling in which he was steeped in Biblical studies in the original Hebrew.

In that connection the young Freud developed a deep admiration for, and friendship with, one of his religion teachers, Rabbi Samuel Hammerschlag, who was a strong proponent of humanistic Reform Judaism.

Notwithstanding the positive impact of such religious influences, from adolescence onwards Freud apparently found the observances and strictures required by orthodox Jewish belief increasingly burdensome and he became overtly hostile to the religion of his forefathers and to religion in general Goodnick , ; it is likely that this was the principal cause of the estrangement between Sigmund and his father Jacob.

This was accompanied by a richly lyrical dedication in Hebrew, written in the style of melitzah, a literary tradition of Biblical allusion Alter , 23 , referencing the relationship between them and their shared Jewish heritage.

In part, the verse ran:. Son who is dear to me, Shelomoh. I valued him highly, understood him very well, and with his peculiar mixture of deep wisdom and fantastic light-heartedness he had a significant effect on my life… in my inner self the whole past has been awakened by this event. Thus was born the ideas of the Oedipus complex to which we have referred above, which, universalized by Freud, became one of the cornerstones of psychoanalytic theory.

A number of scholars Rice, ; Gresser, have suggested that this problem is one of the keys to an understanding of his final work, Moses and Monotheism. Brentano was author of the seminal Psychology From an Empirical Standpoint , orig. In that connection, he revitalised the famous principle of intentionality from scholasticism as the defining criterion of mental phenomena and processes: unlike the physical counterparts from which they must be distinguished, mental or psychical phenomena, he argued, are necessarily directed towards intentional objects.

Given this distinction between the physical and the mental, Brentano considered that one of the key problems for an empirical psychology was that of constructing an adequate picture of the internal dynamics of the mind from an analysis of the complex interplay between diverse mental phenomena, on the one hand, and the interactions between the mind and the external world, on the other.

This conception was to have a profound influence upon the development of Freudian psychoanalysis, into which it was to become prominently incorporated. However, Brentano set his face implacably against admitting the notion of unconscious mental states and processes into a fully scientific psychology. Further, the positing of the existence of unconscious mental states also seemed to him to introduce uncertainty and vagueness into the field of psychology and to carry with it an implication of the impossibility of the very rigorous, empirically-based science of mind which he sought to establish.

And it seemed evident to him from an early stage that the restriction of psychology to the level of conscious processes and events had made, and would continue to make, such a goal unattainable, and that it was precisely because traditional psychology had operated with that restriction that it found such occurrences problematic and inexplicable. Thus, while both Brentano and Freud were motivated by the desire to create a fully scientific science of mind, they reached diametrically opposed positions on the question of the inclusion of the unconscious in its terms of reference.

Freud found strong support for this conviction in Theodor Lipps, a thinker who was as committed as Brentano to the ideal of an empirically grounded psychology governed by an experimental methodology, but who, unlike Brentano, considered that this necessitated, at a fundamental level, reference to the unconscious.

But perhaps of even greater consequence in connection with the analysis of religion is the fact that concomitant to the idea of psychological projection is the notion that the human need to ascribe psychological states to others can and does readily lead to situations in which such ascriptions are extended beyond their legitimate boundaries in the human realm.

It is in that way that personifications or anthropomorphisms arise: human beings, particularly at the early stage of their development, have an innate tendency to go beyond the legitimate boundaries of application of the psychological concept-range and thus to misapply human-being concepts. In his Essence of Christianity ; English trans.

Italics in original. In articulating this project, Freud drew deeply upon a wide variety of anthropological sources, particularly the work of such contemporary luminaries as John Ferguson McLennan — , Edward Burnett Tylor — , John Lubbock — , Andrew Lang — , James George Frazer — and Robert Ranulph Marett — on the connection between social structures and primitive religions.

This view was rearticulated by Frazer in his famous Golden Bough and referenced approvingly by Freud , 90 , though he emphasized that elements of the first two stages continue to operate in contemporary life. Accordingly, Freud gradually adopted the position of one who seeks to explicate the significance of religion in the context of a cultural milieu in which, having supplanted attempts to control the world through sympathetic magic, it has itself been superseded by science.

It was perhaps this latter, more than any other factor, which was to suggest to Freud that the psychoanalytical techniques which he pioneered in his account of individual psychology could be applied socially, to explain the nature of the religious impulse in human life generally.

IX, , a view which he was to retain for the remainder of his life. Atkinson, of the relationship between totemism and the incest prohibition in primitive social groupings. The prominence and strength of the incest taboo was of considerable interest to him as a psychologist, not least because he saw it as one of the keys to an understanding of human culture and as deeply linked to the concepts of infantile sexuality, Oedipal desire, repression and sublimation which play such a key role in psychoanalytic theory.

In tribal groups the incest taboo was usually associated with the totem animal with which the group identified and after which it was named. This identification led to a ban on the killing or the consumption of the flesh of the totem animal and on other restrictions on the range of permissible behaviors and, in particular, it led to the practice of exogamy, the prohibition of sexual relations between members of the totem group.

Such prohibitions, Freud believed, are extremely important as they constitute the origins of human morality, and he offered a reconstruction of the genesis of totem religions in human culture in terms which are at once forensically psychoanalytical and rather egregiously speculative.

The primal social state of our pre-human ancestors, he argued, closely following J. In this account, the psycho-sexual dynamic operating within the group led to the violent rebellion of the sons, their murder of the father and their consumption of his flesh Atkinson , chapters I-III; Freud , The identification of the totem animal with the father arose out of a displacement of the deep sense of guilt generated by the murder, while simultaneously being an attempt at reconciliation and a retrospective renunciation of the crime by creating a taboo around the killing of the totem.

Such a view, of course, presupposes the validity of the essentially Lamarckian idea that traits acquired by individuals, including psychological traits such a memory, can be inherited and thus passed through the generations. This was a controversial notion to which Freud, who never fully accepted the Darwinian account of evolution through natural selection, steadfastly adhered throughout his life, in the face of scientific criticism.

The counterpart to the primary taboo against killing or eating the totem animal, Freud pointed out, is the annual totem feast, in which that very prohibition is solemnly and ritualistically violated by the tribal community, and he followed the Orientalist William Robertson Smith — in linking such totem feasts with the rituals of sacrifice in developed religions. The father is thus represented twice in primitive sacrifice, as god and as totem animal, the totem being the first form taken by the father substitute and the god a later one in which the father reassumes his human identity.

The dynamic which operates in totem religions, Freud argued, is sustained by and underpins the evolution of religion into its modern forms, where the need for communal sacrifice to expiate an original sin should also be understood in terms of parricide guilt. In time Freud came to consider that the account which he had given in Totem and Taboo did not fully address the issue of the origins of developed religion, the human needs which religion is designed to meet and, consequently, the psychological motivations underpinning religious belief.

He turned to these questions in his The Future of an Illusion ; reprinted and Civilization and its Discontents ; reprinted In the two works he represented the structures of civilization, which permit men to live in mutually beneficial communal relationships, as emerging only as a consequence of the imposition of restrictive processes on individual human instinct.

In order for civilization to emerge, limiting regulations must be created to frustrate the satisfaction of destructive libidinal drives, examples of which are those directed towards incest, cannibalism and murder. For Freud, the principal task of civilization is thus to defend us against nature, for without it we would be entirely exposed to natural forces which have almost unlimited power to destroy us. Extending his account of repression from individual to group psychology, Freud contended that, with the refinement of culture, the external coercive measures inhibiting the instincts become largely internalized.

Professional work, Freud argued, is one area in which such substitutions take place, while the aesthetic appreciation of art is another significant one; for art, though it is inaccessible to all but a privileged few, serves to reconcile human beings to the individual sacrifices that have been made for the sake of civilization.

However, the effects of art, even on those who appreciate it, are transient, with experience demonstrating that they are insufficiently strong to reconcile us to misery and loss. For that effect, in particular for the achievement of consolation for the suffering and tribulations of life, religious ideas become invoked; these ideas, he held, consequentially become of the greatest importance to a culture in terms of the range of substitute satisfactions which they provide. Since religious ideas thus address the most fundamental problems of existence, they are regarded as the most precious assets civilization has to offer, and the religious worldview, which Freud acknowledged as possessing incomparable consistency and coherence, makes the claim that it alone can answer the question of the meaning of life.

For Freud, then, the cultural and social importance of religion resides both in reconciling men to the limitations which membership of the community places upon them and in mitigating their sense of powerlessness in the face of a recalcitrant and ever-threatening nature.

It is in this sense, he argued, that the father-son relationship so crucial to psychoanalysis demands the projection of a deity configured as an all-powerful, benevolent father figure. In declaring such ideas illusory Freud did not initially seek to suggest or imply that they are thereby necessarily false; an illusory belief he defined simply as one which is motivated in part by wish-fulfillment, which in itself implied nothing about its relation to reality. He gives the example of a middle-class girl who believes that a prince will marry her; such a belief is clearly inspired by a wish-fantasy and is unlikely to prove justified, but such marriages do occasionally happen.

Given that religion has, as Freud acknowledged, made very significant contributions to the development of civilization, and that religious beliefs are not strictly refutable, the question arises as to why he came to consider that religious beliefs are delusional and that a turning away from religion is both desirable and inevitable in advanced social groupings.

He took this as confirming his belief that religion is akin to a universal obsessional neurosis generated by an unresolved father complex and is situated on an evolutionary trajectory which can only lead to its general abandonment in favor of science. We may call this education to reality. Need I confess to you that the sole purpose of my book is to point out the necessity for this forward step? In Civilization Freud mentions that he had sent a copy of The Future of an Illusion to an admired friend, subsequently identified as the French novelist and social critic Romain Rolland.

On the other hand, he was confronted with the obvious problem that feelings are notoriously difficult to deal with in a scientific manner. Additionally—and perhaps more importantly—Freud admitted to being unable to discover the oceanic feeling in himself, though he was not disposed on that ground to deny the occurrence of it in others.

In that connection, he offered an account of the oceanic feeling as being a revival of an infantile experience associated with the narcissistic union between mother and child, in which the awareness of an ego or self as differentiated from the mother and world at large has yet to emerge in the child. In that sense, he contended, it would be implausible to take it as the foundational source of religion, since only a feeling which is an expression of a strong need could function as a motivational drive.

The oceanic feeling, he conceded, may have become connected with religion later on, but he insisted that it is the experience of infantile helplessness and the longing for the father occasioned by it which is the original source from which religion derives Freud , A very significant body of literature has since grown up around the idea that religion might have emerged genetically, and derive its dynamic energy, as Rolland suggested, from mystical feelings of oneness with the universe in which fear and anxiety are transcended and time and space are eclipsed.

In , while exiled in Britain and suffering from the throat cancer which was to lead to his death, Freud published his final and most controversial work, Moses and Monotheism. Written over a period of many years and sub-divided into discrete segments, two of which were published independently in the periodical Imago in , the book has an inelegant structure.

The many repetitions that it contains, coupled with the initial strangeness of the arguments advanced, persuaded some that it was the product of a man whose intellectual powers had fallen into serious decline. However, in more recent times the book has become recognized as one of the most important in the Freudian canon, offering an innovative contribution to the understanding of the nature of religious truth and of the role played by tradition in religious thought.

Accordingly, at this late juncture in his life and with the threat of fascist antisemitism looming over Europe, he turned his attention once more to the religion of his forefathers, constructing an alternative narrative to the orthodox Biblical one on the origins of Judaism and the emergence from it of Christianity. Developing a thesis partly suggested by work of the protestant theologian Ernst Sellin — in , Freud argued that the historical Moses was not born Jewish but was rather an aristocratic Egyptian who functioned as a senior official or priest to the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV.

The latter had introduced revolutionary changes to almost all aspects of Egyptian culture in the 14 th century B. More significantly, he had also introduced a strict new universal monotheistic religion to Egypt, the religion of the god Aton or Aten, in the process outlawing as idolatrous the veneration of the traditional Egyptian polytheistic deities, including the then dominant religion of Amun-Ra, removing all references to the possibility of an afterlife and prohibiting the creation of graven images.

He had also proscribed all forms of magic and sorcery, closed all the temples and suppressed established religious practice, thereby undermining the social status and political power of the Amun priests. Thus, when the Pharaoh died in B. In the process he converted them to an even more spiritualized, rigorous and demanding form of monotheism, which involved the Egyptian custom of circumcision, a symbolic act of submission to the Divine Will.

In the Freudian narrative the onerous demands of the new religion ultimately led his followers to rebel and to kill Moses, an effective repetition of the original father murder outlined in Totem and Taboo , after which they turned to the cult of the volcano god Yahweh. But the memory of the Egyptian Moses remained a powerful latent force until, several generations later, a second Moses, the son-in-law of the Midianite priest Jethro, shaped the development of Judaism by integrating the monotheism of his predecessor with the worship of Yahweh.

While Freud evidently retained his view of religion as the analogue of an obsessional neurosis, this account now contained the recognition that, as such, its effects are not necessarily pathological, but, on the contrary, can also be socially and culturally beneficial in a marked way. In his view, the Judaic ethic was one which demanded restrictions on the gratification of certain instincts as being incompatible with its spiritualised view of human nature and dignity, in a manner paralleling that in which the totem laws had imposed the rule of exogamy within the totem clan.

Such restrictions, he argued, enabled Jewish culture to flourish and to take on its unique character. In this account, the murder of Moses was thus the initial event which provoked a sense of guilt that in turn shaped the ethical content of Judaic monotheism.

To recognize, through this form of psycho analysis, the genesis of the ethical system in the guilt arising from a nefarious historical deed is, he suggested, to free oneself from its obsessive features while simultaneously accepting its entirely human origins. But such a recognition does not entail an abandonment of the core value system, as there is a sense, as Freud acknowledged to be true in his own case, in which that ethical heritage cannot be repudiated once it is acquired.

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This article explores attempts by Sigmund Freud to provide a naturalistic account of religion enhanced by insights and theoretical constructs derived from the discipline of psychoanalysis which he had pioneered. Freud was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist who is widely regarded as the father of psychoanalysis, which is both a psychological theory and therapeutic system. As a theory, psychoanalysis conceptualizes the mind as a system composed of three constituent elements: id, ego, and superego. It focuses on the interaction between those elements, and includes such key concepts as infantile sexuality, repression, latency and transference. This article charts the evolution of his views on religion from Totem and Taboo , through The Future of an Illusion and Civilization and its Discontents to Moses and Monotheism , focusing in particular on the parallels drawn by him between religious belief and neurosis, and on his account of the role which the father complex plays in the genesis of religious belief. The article concludes with a review of some of the main critical responses which the Freudian account has elicited. He thus saw the psychosexual development of every individual as consisting essentially of a movement through a series of conflicts which are resolved by the internalization, through the operation of the superego, of control mechanisms derived originally from an authoritative, usually parental, source.

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Sigmund Freud

Was Sigmund Freud a great medical scientist who uncovered important truths about human psychology, or was he something different - a gifted artist, a philosophical visionary who re-imagined human nature and helped us confront taboos, but whose theories, offered as science, fail under scrutiny? His critics and his devotees see the answer lying at opposite extremes, having him all magician or all messiah. Was he either? Next month, the first major translations of Freud's work for over 30 years will be published by Penguin. Under the general editorship of Adam Phillips, the 15 volumes will include Freud on the unconscious, on jokes, and on dreams and hysteria.

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